So in all the extravagance that the name “The Ritz” throws at you plus that fact that the restaurant has just gained its first Michelin star, expectations for this outing were indeed high. I say outing and not just meal as dinner at “The Ritz” is so much more than just the food. We are talking about a Grade II listed building and 5 star hotel that has been around for over a century and I am pretty sure the decor has remained similar throughout those years.
After passing through the revolving doors and being directed towards the “The Rivoli Bar” by the very friendly and well dressed doorman everything, as you can imagine, was in its place from the intricate ceiling patterns to the immaculate grand piano that was playing us old ballads.
First thing to get our taste buds around were the cocktails and in particular the champagne ritz ones which I can safely say no one had any complaints about. We did, however, have to wait a good 15 minutes which in my book is not acceptable for a first drink even if the place was probably as busy on a Thursday night as most places get on a good Saturday. Maybe I am tittering on an alcoholic though so others might not be so upset..? The canapes along side these were very interesting and well thought out and did start our evening off nicely.
Word of warning: make sure you stick to the dress code! Even though my esteemed colleagues are always impeccably dressed, when it says blazer and tie they mean blazer and tie. Without naming names (Mithael), the accused will be escorted off to the cloakroom or should I say lost property to obtain the necessaries.
Now that we were all dressed for the occasion and sufficiently tipsy we trotted down the elegant hallway to the very large dining / hall sized room where we were shown to our nice round five seater table. We were all up for the tasting menu and wine flight so prior to that we were awarded with some Hors d’oeuvres and a starter drink to get our taste buds ready. I went for the house champagne, Reserve Ritz Champagne Barons De Rothschild, which apparently you can only get in the Paris Ritz or the London Ritz. I know this because I truly believe that it was the best champagne I have ever tasted and wanted to buy a case or three! Now I don’t pretend to be a connoisseur of champagne but I do know that I have drunk a lot of it over the years, pretty much whenever I get the chance, so regardless of how well it fares amongst the best in the world I rated it big time. The Hors d’oeuvres were Lemon Macarons with Salmon Mousse, Coronation Chicken Twirls and Goats Cheese Shortbreads. Each of them gave us plenty to talk about and were of a very high quality. Due to my love of the champagne I was working on a one bite, one swig routine by now…
Next we were surprised with an amuse bouche which was named “Artichoke Royale” and was made with autumn vegetables and black walnut mousse. Very good indeed, just the right texture and delicacy. This was accompanied by a good Australian Reisling. “Kanta Riesling 2009 Egon Muller”. It had a sweet petrol taste that came out in waves and was very drinkable.
Now we were starting to kick into the real nitty gritty of the cooking, a langoustine with cauliflour sauce, squid ink tuile and pickled onion was brought to us next. So interesting to read in the first place and from not really knowing what to expect, which makes it halve the fun, we all found it amazing. We were all starting to become very impressed at this point.
The following wine was one with some background, “Dario Princic, Ribolla Gialla 2013”. This is an Orange Wine Pinot Grigio (a white wine made with extended skin contact) so to look at you wouldn’t say it was either a white, red or a rose! It was very good, however, with intense flavours and added again another really interesting aspect to our evening.
The next dish was Raviola with Truffle and percorino sauce. Nicely cooked al dente and you cook tell there was some skill behind the hands that crafted them. This was followed by a fillet of Turbot with caviar which was well paired in that the caviar gave it a saltiness that seemed to enhance the fish flavour. A good red followed this, “Poliziano, Asinone 2012, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”, which offered aromas of walnuts, dark berries and firm tannins. Top draw.
Following all this deliciousness was Veal Sweetbread with Parsnip and Perigord Truffle. Some of us get nervous at the thought of sweetbreads but I can say that I do often pick this on a menu. It didn’t disappoint at all, everything seemed to compliment the veal which really was the main star of that dish.
Next was a mushroom fricasse and mousse. A very rich dish and by this time we were all filling up but it was just right in size not become too sickly. A good show of expertise in cooking again.
Now after a decent break where we enjoyed the live band with the rooms very own classical singer we moved onto the desserts. Crepe Suzette with orange and flambe in grand mariner. This was all done on a trolley so we didn’t burn our eyebrows off, maybe they have had court cases in the past? Anyways, very tasty and classical to match the music and room we thought.
The final wine pairing was a very sweet wine, kind of like a sherry. “Noe, Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum, Pedro Ximenex Jerez” from Spain. Not many people round the table like sweet wine but I though it paired well with the desserts and was definitely more interesting than most sweet wines you get.
Petit Fours were the final present we received, choc grenache with salted caramel centre, hazlenut cake with coffee creme, passion fruit with apple jelly and vanilla macaroons. All again showed off good skills and were a nice finale to our excellent meal and evening.
No where else can surely evoke such excitement of classic opulence than the Ritz experience. Although it did at times feel a little like mass market fine dining, I would thoroughly recommend to all. Others mentioned that the wine flight didn’t match up to the food as well as it could of but after experiencing a few of these now I believe that is always more of opinion than anything. One last thing to mention, don’t bring your bank manager…
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